As West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga celebrates the culmination of a dominant run through the conference tournament, the budding men’s basketball program at the University of San Diego can allow itself a small sigh of relief off the court.
Head coach Lamont Smith, arrested two Sundays ago in the Bay Area in relation to an alleged domestic violence dispute, will not face charges for the incident, it was announced Tuesday.
In a statement, Smith’s attorney, Gail Shifrin, said that “After reviewing all the evidence and completing their investigation, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office has discharged the matter and has declined to file any charges against Coach Smith. An arrest in California is not the same as being charged with a crime. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges because there is insufficient evidence and there are no court proceedings.”
The news comes as a positive for USD, and especially for Smith, who has been on administrative leave since last Monday while the school conducts its own investigation into the incident. That status will persist as the university continues looking into the matter, and acting head coach Sam Scholl will continue to lead the Toreros on the sideline through the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign.
Under Scholl’s guidance, the Toreros lost to BYU in the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament on Saturday, though it remains to be seen if, as athletic director Bill McGillis has previously insisted, the program will participate in a postseason tournament. While inclusion in the NCAA tournament is out of the question, participation in a pay-for-play format such as the CIT or CBI remains a possibility for the Toreros.
Smith was originally arrested at the end of the team’s final regular-season road trip on suspicion of domestic violence, assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury, and false imprisonment. The alleged victim was not Smith’s wife, though her specific identity has yet to be confirmed.
While the clearing of formal charges is obviously a step in the right direction toward Smith’s retention by the university, USD’s investigation of the matter is ongoing, with the possibility of infidelity likely a focus.
The outcome of that investigation projects to be the deciding factor in whether or not the Catholic institution retains its third-year basketball coach.